This is a topic that’s bound to inspire some quite emotive views. We live in a very transient, materialistic and shallow world today. It seems the issues involved in people’s romantic lives at times get so twisted it’s basically normal now to hear of people cheating on their partners (could that ever be ‘normal’?) and people breaking up with each other. It’s very sad and saddest most for kids who’re by default involved in the equation.
I’ve often wondered if there are any people who seek “happiness” in the arms of another person i.e. not their partner, and who end up happy. My experience tells me not. My experience is also somewhat confirmed by some thoughts in the book Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts (SYMBIS).
What is it also about the pathology of affairs? How do people get tempted and enticed in the first place? It must certainly start with attraction, and then encouragement, and perhaps that’s all augmented by dissatisfaction in the then-present situation. We can easily see how these things can happen. In fact, the book His Needs, Her Needs describes these very scenarios, what leads us to them (as far as our love needs not being met), and how to put them straight.
Let’s get back to what SYMBIS says. There’s the premise that our identities are acutely fitted to our spousal relationships.
“As human beings, we create and define ourselves through commitments, and those commitments become an integral part of our identity. When we contradict our commitments, we lose ourselves and suffer an identity crisis,” it says.
That is, we invest a lot of our personal selves into a marriage or de facto relationship. When we introduce another party into the mix we disrupt the balance of our souls.
And when we split, particular if it’s by virtue of our own choice, we voluntarily set up a possible disenfranchising of our identities—we end up with an identity crisis; the action we’ve taken is often not consistent with who we are and the commitments we’ve made. It’s like throwing the baby out with the bath water. We can’t be ourselves if we throw a key part of ourselves away—life doesn’t allow us to be so flippant in the level of these things.
There are plenty of exceptions to this above I’m sure, but there’s also some truth to the fact that whilst the other partner grieves for the broken relationship the one committing adultery grieves for loss or lack of personal identity. Truth be told, both are now suffering with identity issues.
The real issue is this. If we select for ourselves a mate who’s right for us, and to use a Jim Collins analogy ‘is the right bus for us,’ then why would we not endeavour to continue to invest, re-kindle, re-awaken and re-invent things all through the years of our lives together? (I guess there are some over-simplifications to this argument.) But, to start over is soul-destroying (if that were possible).
And that’s the key: selection. Many people do not make the right choices to begin with. We’re all fallen and very flawed creatures. The slightest misjudgement in selection can cause a lifetime of pain (for not one, but both it seems).
Sex, lies, affairs and break-ups... for the largest part are never good and only cause harm. Breaking a marriage commitment to a spouse in this way is, in a sense, “to break who you are.” Is it really worth it?
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.
 Les & Leslie Parrot, Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1995, 2006), p. 56.
 Willard F. Harley, His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Revell/Baker Book House Co., 1986, 1994, 2001).
 Parrot, Ibid, p. 56.
 Parrot, Ibid, p. 56.